Memphis, Tennessee-based artist Johnathan Payne was selected for the first Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Residency, one of two new programs created by the Columbus Museum of Art and the Greater Columbus Arts Council (Arts Council) to support African American professional visual artists and honor the legacy of the beloved Columbus artist. Payne was selected out of 50 applications from 24 states.
The Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Residency is nationally focused and provides an African American professional visual artist residing in the United States the opportunity to live and work in Robinsons soon-to-be-restored home, and to devote dedicated time to creating art within Robinsons home studio.
In 2020, the 90-day residency is currently planned to begin in late summer or early fall and will include a $2,500 award and a stipend up to $5,500; lodging and studio access is provided free as part of the residency. Payne will participate in community outreach activities and will have the opportunity for a public presentation and/or exhibition.
This residency will be the first and only program that is part of the Alliance of Artists Communities (AAC) network and set in the former home of a female African American artist. AAC is an international association of artist residencies a diverse field of more than 1,500 programs worldwide that support artists of any discipline in the development of new creative work.
Payne, a Houston native, earned a bachelors degree in art from Rhodes College and Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from the Yale School of Art. He describes himself as a Southern, African American queer artist working in drawing, painting, printmaking, collage and weaving. Payne engages with themes of self-concept, tribalism, mental health, semiotics and the complexities of being a marginal identity, and works with the traditions of geometric abstraction, post-minimalism and fiber sculpture. He has exhibited widely in New York City, Memphis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Haven, Connecticut. Paynes work may be viewed at www.johnathanpayne.com
Being the first recipient of the Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Residency is nothing short of a tremendous honor, said Payne. To live and work in Robinsons home and studio is to be a part of a rich artistic legacy. While in residency, I plan to continue an ongoing series in my practice called Constructions, where I create geometrically patterned collages and paintings out of shredded paper. Additionally, I will embark on a new series of large-scale, abstract mixed-media works incorporating techniques of hand-sewing, collage and stencil painting. I am inspired by the subject matter, materiality and tactility of Aminah Robinsons work, and I hope to learn more about her during my time in Columbus.
Known for art inspired by the African concept of Sankofa, understanding the past in order to go forward, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson lived and worked in Columbus, Ohio, until her death in 2015. She created sculpture, large complex work she called RagGonNons, rag paintings, paintings on cloth, drawings and books about her family and community, African American history, her travels, and the stories she was told by her elders. Her goal was to create art that fills the gaps of African and African American history and encourage others to research and document the history of their families and communities for the next generation.
In 2002, CMA organized Symphonic Poem, the first retrospective exhibition of her work, which traveled throughout the United States. In 2004, Robinson participated in a residency in Santiago, Chile, where she was the first woman artist to have a solo exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Also in 2004, she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, given to individuals with extraordinary originality and dedication to creative pursuits. Her commission for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is on permanent view at the Center in Cincinnati. In 2008, the Museum launched Aminahs World, an online resource where visitors can learn about Robinson and her work and create their own online art. Her last exhibition at CMA was Songs for a New Millennium, 1812-2012: Works by Aminah Robinson Celebrating 200Columbus. Her work has also been presented at Akron Art Museum, Oakland Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Toledo Museum of Art and museums and galleries around the world.
Jurors for the residency included: Faith Ringgold, artist and professor emeritus of art, University of California in San Diego; Kellie Jones, professor of art history and archaeology, Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia University; Curlee Holton, director of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, University of Maryland; Carole Genshaft, curator, Columbus Museum of Art; Deidre Hamlar, curator, Columbus Museum of Art; Loann Crane, civic leader, arts supporter and program underwriter; Toni Smith, adjunct professor of African American studies at Columbus State Community College and Shepard neighborhood resident; Julie Taggart, provost, Columbus College of Art & Design and Arts Council board member.
Earlier this year, Columbus Museum of Art and the Arts Council launched both a fellowship and a residency program to honor the legacy of artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. In 2020 both programs are made possible with the financial support of Loann Crane.